Monday, February 28, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 59 - Back to the grind


I guess this is where I get back on the bike, or blog as it were. Not that I have much to say,. Work was what work always is, a four letter word. The bad news for you the reader is you missed a prime opportunity to mug me. Once again I got stuck running the deposits to the bank and this time there were 15 of them, so I was traipsing around downtown Pittsburgh with over $50,000 on my person. It is a good thing I am of the honest sort. It would be very easy for someone in my position to just disappear with that kind of coin on them, never to return. But alas I am not that guy, so instead I did my duty and dropped said cash off at the bank, even though the bank run ended up getting me out of work 30 minutes late.

I still have an invoice to break down here at home, life really sucks when you are bringing your work home with you. I haven't done this since my radio days and honestly it is one of the things I do not miss about that job. I like being able to say most days that at 3pm I am done. I suppose technically I could take on a little more responsibility than that, but that will cost more money. Not that I am begging for a raise, but I have a pretty full plate with what I am doing already, enough so that if more stuff is going to be piled on some more cash may be in order.

Really other than work there isn't much new to report. I got one of my Amazon gift cards the other day, I have another one pending. And I won a pair of ear buds from Marlboro last week, which I didn't expect but will gladly take. I am probably a good three hockey games behind on videos again, maybe some night where I feel that TV sucks enough I will get about catching up. That isn't tonight though, I like “Chuck” and “The Cape” so TV it is. A nice simple minded might is maybe just what the doctor ordered.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 58 - Miss me?


It would be easy sitting here today to just call the whole 365 project an absolute failure, and in a way it most certainly is. The goal of adding a blog entry every day came to a screeching halt yesterday, not because of a desire to not blog, heck I have trudged through that before and managed to grind something out for the page, but it was more of the mind was willing but the body was weak moments.

The beginning of my problems started bright and early on Saturday, roughly 3am to be precise. I had went to bed early, or early for me anyway which is usually around 10:30-11:00pm, because I had opted to go in and clean the store on Saturday, well technically Sammy and I both did, but Sammy isn't working on a blog project so we will leave him out of this particular portion of the story. Check that, I will include him for now in as much as we planned on going to breakfast on Saturday, ye olde Deluca's run which meant I was going to be up early because we usually meet up downtown at 6:30am so we can be there by 7am. But I woke up at 3am, and there was a reason for it, that being that an app I play on Facebook, Madden All Stars was running a promo for double coin weekend. The thing is, in order to advance in the game you have to buy packs of cards, 5 in each pack, and in game coinage they run anywhere from 10,000 for a bronze pack to 150,000 for an ultimate pack. Since I am pretty far along in the game, the only cards that can make my roster better are the highest value one. I could buy cheaper ones in hopes of helping with collections and what not, but none of them would help the team that I use on a daily basis. And the promo being run awards you 2x a coin bonus for every win you get, scrimmage, season or NFL season and it kicked off at 2am. The tickets needed to play season and NFL season games are awarded one every two hours, but are usually cut off around 5, that is, you can't continually stockpile them simply by not playing the game, so I knew if I went to work without playing I was going to lose some serious coinage in games tickets I wouldn't get. Even worse, I am using a Mike Tomlin card for my head coach, and 2x bonus on coins in games you win, so for this weekend I am getting a 4x bonus, so it was imperative that from possibly helping my team I needed to play off as many tickets as possible during the 48 hours of double coin weekend, which started at 2am. Since I woke up at 3am, this seemed like a good time to head over to the computer, play off all of my accumulated game tickets at their highest possible value and then get ready for breakfast. So rather than go back to bed, I just tinkered for a few hours online getting some stuff done that I can do once a day (the 4 free swagbucks, super scratchoff cards, my bejeweled blitz spin) I climbed into the shower, got dressed and headed downtown for breakfast.

I met Sammy around 6:20am, yes I was on time for a change and we waited for about 15 minutes for Clare, who did not show up to no one's surprise, and off to DeLuca's we went. Sammy opted for the Steele City Breakfast (two eggs, two bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast and two hotcakes) and I went for the breakfast bowl (grilled veggies, two eggs, two ground beef patties, toast) and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. For what was coming it was needed.

After a hearty breakfast we walked back to the store, a pretty lengthy walk but a good way to burn off some of the food we ate, and got to the store a little after 8am. The project for the day, besides me placing the order for Monday, was to pull everything off of all of the shelves, clean the shelves and then put everything back. After that we were to sweep and deck mop the entire basement. Both projects were pretty lengthy in nature, so much so that when we were first asked about how long we would be there and Sammy told Dee we should be done by 2pm I actually laughed. As it turned out we actually finished a little after 3pm. Of course after all of that I still had an order to put together, so tack on another hour and a half for my stay and it was like I pulled a regular weekday shift, 8:30am till just about 5pm till I actually finished. My wallet can use the extra cash, but after a week where we had a 195 case order from Pepsi, another 60 case order from Coke and the probablility of a big order from 7 Up on Monday (I ordered over 40 cases, but we will see how many I actually get) and by the end of the day Saturday my body was pretty spent. I had a pain in my left heel that felt like every time I took a step in felt like someone was driving a nail into it, my right arm was sore to the point where I actually gobbled some aspirin to deal with it. So when I got home the first thing I did was lay down on my bed. The plan was I would read a little and then maybe grab some dinner. That plan worked out okay, I had a little leftover stew in the fridge and I still have plenty of reading material, but after having dinner I tried settling in and there was nothing on TV, so I hopped over to my radio and clicked it on and the Pens game was on. I figured I would do some more reading while the game was on, then after the game get up and bang out my next blog entry. Ah but for the best laid plans.......

I lasted about 5 minutes into the game before I was sound asleep. My eyes cracked open briefly around 9pm, long enough to hear that the game went into overtime. Again I though about my previous plan and again the result was exactly the same, I was asleep in about 5 minutes. Till I woke up it was after midnight, so in fact while I could have run over to the computer and tried faking an entry and coming up with some bullshit excuse for why it didn't upload, the simple fact of the matter is that I just missed it. So in theory I could just walk away from the project now, there is no way I will do a blog entry for everyday of the year, but I am, not ready to do that just yet. Like I said, it wasn't a lack of desire that kept me from blogging, which should be the determining factor in this case. If I would have come home from work and just said “Fuck this” then I would be all about ending this little experiment. But since that wasn't the case, it will be the 365 minus 1. In the grand scheme of things it will not matter much, life will continue to go on as it should and for me that is still to try and blog every day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 56 - In sickness and no health

I think I am starting to get sick. My throat is a little sore and I have the cough, aching, stuffy head, fever thing down pretty well also. Well, maybe not the fever, at least not yet and hopefully not at all. But with a big day at work Saturday I really can't afford to be all hobbled up. I think part of it is just being worn down from work, but as the saying goes I can rest when I am dead. With my landlord emailing me my new lease today for this coming fall I need to starting banging out some serious hours (aka a lot more than 40-45) if I want to keep the financial ship all straightened out. I am looking at a slight increase ($15 a month) with an added bonus that if I stay on for 2 more years the second year there will be no increase. Me, I just don't like packing shit up and moving if I don't have to. I have got all of my bills and everything all tied into this place, I'd rather not go through the process of reestablishing a foot hold someplace else if I can avoid it. I am sure I could comparison shop and find a cheaper place, but there is a lot of hassle that goes with than plan, and it is more hassle than I want to deal with.

And tomorrow is the big cleaning day at work. Sammy and I are planning a breakfast at DeLuca's to kick things off. Clare said she may join us, but that isn't the first time I have heard that story. I will believe it when I see it. That being said, she does have to be in tomorrow to clean the deli, so whether she makes it to breakfast with us cool people or not, she will get to suffer alongside those that are pulling the short straw of cleaning duty.

Okay, that is all. Sorry so short but I am feeling the need for a nap very badly. Yes, I nap just like I have sex, very badly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 55 - Stewing in my own juices

Okay, so this is what the newest version of Open Office looks like. Pretty much the same as the last version to be honest with you. Not that I was expecting great things mind you, just not sure if I like this version any better than the previous one.

By the way, hi everyone, for those that are left reading these things. Excuse me while I settle in with a nice bowl of beef stew. Yeah, I decided to tinker in the kitchen again. I actually came up with the plan for this meal Sunday while having breakfast at Eat N Park. While enjoying a combination of a book and a grilled sticky smiley breakfast I decided it would be good to experiment in the kitchen some time the upcoming week. Tonight was that night. It gave me the chance to tinker with the white pepper that I keep stocked in the cupboard. When the weather is as crappy as it has been recently, having some warm food to fill one's gullet is always a good thing.

Speaking of weather, I would like to say thanks to empirechick and bucdaddy over at That's Church, who commented on a blog comment I left there. Nice to see that my work is appreciated outside this little forum that I have carved out here.

I will be honest, I plan on sleeping very well tonight. After a Pepsi order that was 198 cases I expect that I will be somewhat sore in the morning. That's okay, I don't mind, just means it is another week where I don't have to buy a gym membership. And I still have the Coke order coming in tomorrow, which while not as big will still be a workout.

Plus I am booked for a 6 day week this week, With Ed coming back and management in full blown panic mode they want the store in tip top shape, so I said it would be better to do it on Saturday when I have time to just focus on cleaning and organizing than trying to do it during the week when I am being pulled in 10 different direction during the course of the day. Brian agreed and gave me the go ahead to come in, and he is letting Sammy come in as well. Double plus, because a) we both actually work so we should be able to bang out everything in one glorious sweep and b) when Sammy and I pull a Saturday together we always start with a DeLuca's breakfast, and it has been about a month for me over there, so the time for revisiting the idea of ice cream on pancakes is upon me. I am already counting the hours.

By the way, if you are remotely functional and looking for employment you might want to submit an application with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last night saw Brooks Orpik break a finger in the first period of a game against the San Jose Sharks, bringing the total of walking wounded to somewhere around Gettysburg proportions. Okay, maybe not that bad, but with Orpik out that brings the list to at least 10 starters who are now out with injuries.

Well, rather than ramble on, I am off to the kitchen to fetch more stew and settle in for the rest of a quiet evening.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 54 - This passes for brevity

I'll try to be brief, if for no other reason than I am running out of time to get an entry in today.  I managed to get the hockey videos updated, but that doesn't count for this 365 project.  I was somewhat delayed because I was dumb enough to wait for a Facebook app to update.  I play Madden NFL  on Facebook, but the site went down late last nite for maintainence, which was fine with me, I am not going to be up that late, and I was going to be working all day so I couldn't play anyway.  But when I got home the site still wasn't running.  In fact all told it was down for almost 20 hours.  The problem with that is many aspect of the game work on timers, some players and all head coaches are run on timers as well as a current challenge I am working on, and as time ticked off there became less and less a chance I would get everything done in time.  So my gaming evening fell into a holding pattern.  

I figured next I would go ahead and work on some other things online.  I checked some message boards that I frequent, but there was nothing for me to comment on, watched a few videos while I waited and even commented on a couple of other blogs, once again proving that my scribblings are not limited to this place.  As an added bonus I even made dinner, because I am all that and a bag of chips.  And if you ever come to visit, that will be dinner, a bag of chips.  I save the good cooking for me.

Next I decided to go ahead and start this entry.  Now I have a couple of options in that regard, I can just go to the Multiply page and start typing, but I have lost too many blog entries using that method, so I usually use another program and copy and paste over.  Usually I will use either Wordpad or OpenOffice.  The difference is that OpenOffice does some spell chacking and punctuation checking while I am working whereas Wordpad doesn't.  Of course I can always preview and spell check on Multiply, but if I can afford myself an extra layer of protection from my own stupidity it isn't a bad thing, so I went to use OpenOffice and it said an update was available.  I should have turned and ran at that point but instead I tried installing the update and it just became a long arduous process, one that is still taking place while I am stuck in Wordpad land.  Lesson learned, never tinker with something that already works.  Too many things can go wrong.

And it is not like I want to be up doing computer fixins these evening.  I place the Pepsi order at work today and I have 198 cases coming in in the morning, more than enough to keep me busy and enough that I should probably get to bed early to be properly rested for the event.  Between that, another order from Arizona Tea, placing orders at two stores, recreating a cigarette inventory sheet and redoing our entire dairy pricing, I have plans for a pretty full Thursday on the docket, the last thing I want to do is be up half the night and go to work feeling like a zombie.  

So instead of Zombieification, I will stop right here and hope the update eventually finishes downloading.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 53 - Eye bleach

I am sitting here doing relatively nothing. "Fat Camp" is on the TV but I haven't been paying it much attention. Since they went from pairs to just two teams and I can't root against Aqua Team Hunger Force the show has lost its one lone thrill to me. And it would be very easy to just go curl up with my book and call it a night, but I am determined to try to keep this little project of mine (I'm gonna let it shine) going. I'll be honest though, personally I didn't expect to make it 53 days, heck I am surprised I made it a week.

And my book is pretty good, so it isn't like it would be all that painful to me to go read it. I did start with the longest book first. "The Death of American Virtue", which checks in somewhere around 700 pages or so. I've got maybe a 6th of it read to this point, and while I find the subject matter fascinating, be it resolved I am a nerd and what I find fascinating would probably bore you to tears. The book is actually about President Bill Clinton and Independent Council Ken Starr and the whole Whitewater mess. Unlike some more partisan tomes, this one took about nine years to put together and has interviews with all of the relevant players from that era. I am not sure how many authors out there had sit downs with both parties and tried to parse out what happened and why, but I would much rather read a book like this where at the end of the day I can have a more balanced understanding of what happened then the writings of the lefty/righty flavor of the month who is just ginning up crap for the sake of their respective audiences.

I am behind a couple of hockey videos too. I could probably be doing them right now, but then I wouldn't be typing this here entry. One mountain at a time, as it is I find that my entries are pretty much dominating my feed on Multiply, which is scary considering that my entry feed is set for the last 100 updates. On a quick count I came up with 72 of them having been something I did. Nothing like hogging the microphone as it were.

I was putzing around in my dresser drawer the other day and came across something that I might put on the page at a later date. No, it will not be my underwear, I save those for eBay, but rather I have the untraditional dresser in that the top drawer I treat as storage space, so it is full of video cables, CDs and DVDs. Well, while pawing through the Cds I found some stuff that Doug and I did on the radio. I am not sure how I got it, I have a feeling that most of it is going to be bad copies of radio shows due to equipment failure in the studio, but if I find something salvageable I might use it as one of my 365 entries.

Timeout, they are doing the weigh ins on "Fat Camp" and once again a contestant managed to gain weight at the fat camp. I stand firmly behind what I said about such people before, they should be automatically eliminated from the show and forced to walk home. How you can gain weight at such a place is just beyond my ability to comprehend. Check that, like 5 of them gained weight. Perhaps they should rename the show 'The Biggest Dumbass" because how that many people can go through the process of trying to get on the show, only to then gain weight after getting there is so far beyond me that it isn't even funny. I know some of the parents threw the weigh in to protect their "kids", but we aren't talking about 10 year olds here, we are talking full fledged adults. There is no lesson to be learned here, no noble falling on the sword, this is just a lesson that if you don't work hard enough somebody will bail you out, which I think readers of this blog can attest happens about as frequently as I have sex.

Too late, between images of my underwear on eBay and pictures of me having sex, this blog has officially reached the "there isn't enough eye bleach" phase, so I had best stop.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 52 - Time for some cutting

Much has been made recently about the upcoming budget, which program gets cut where and how much should such programs be cut.  The same list of programs will get trotted out as is always the case, and far be it from me to sit down and number crunch each individual government program and rest assured that I am sure that there is waste in many of those programs.  But I have a hard time with Senators and Representatives telling everyone how we all have to sacrifice when I see no such effort being made on their part.  The salary for a member of Congress is $174,000 a year, plus they are automatically given a raise every year to compensate for cost of living increases, so even if prices go up during the course of a year those in Congress are automatically granted a financial buffer to help alleviate those costs.  And lo and behold, if the government were to shut down as has been threatened by some members, while many programs will go without funding until work resumes, guess who still gets paid?  So excuse me if it comes off as a tad bit shallow when those who are making far above the average salary for a worker in the United States and are protected from such simple problems like inflation (and let's not even get into the number of perks they receive from their health care package and pension as well as goodies from lobbyists and the like) to tell everyone else that cuts are coming when they are not willing to do any cutting themselves.  Show me the congressman or woman who would suggest a pay freeze (or cut for that matter) for themselves and those that reside in that august chamber as a show of leadership before professing that those who may need government assistance are more of a burden that their own bloated salaries.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 51 - Lost and found

Well I am still looking for the flash drive.  I have looked in some of the places it could have but obviously wasn't.  I would say I looked in all of the places it could be, but then I would have it and the previous sentences would be moot.  That being said I did find a couple of things that are useful.  For starters I found my usb cable for my mr3 player.  I needed it because it didn't come with an adapter to plug into the wall to recharge it, so it has to be plugged into my computer instead. Needless to say, since I didn't have it my mp3 player was rendered useless.  

I also found my TV remote and my digital antenna remote.  I know what you are thinking, how could you lose those?  Truth is my TV is on the same desk as my computer, so a remote is of little practical use because I still have one of those old fashioned TVs that has buttons and stuff.  For me to change the channel I would have to move my hand about two feet from its current location on the keyboard and I haven't become so lazy as to not be able to do that just yet.  The plus to finding my remotes was that I got to do a rescan with the digital antenna.  Us non cable folks have to do such things sometimes.  I was not getting my all of my digital offerings over the air, Universal Sports disappeared and I had to do a reload it in to the remote in order to get it again.  Don't get me wrong, the channel was still saved but for some reason it wouldn't come in, it would register that a signal was there but show no picture.  But rescanning fixed that problem.  I wish I had found it last weekend, Universal was broadcasting a bunch of the rugby 7s stuff from Vegas, more than just the US team matches which already would have made them a thousand times more viewable.  At least it isn't beach volleyball season,. I would have hated to miss those matches.  Now I just have to put my remotes in a safe place so that in a week I can forget where I put them and the whole process can repeat itself.

I also found my mini camcorder, which I stored away shortly after taking it to an employee night out at work.  Not that I was seriously looking for it, I had no need to break it out for any particular reason, but it was a nice find nonetheless.  

Now if only I could find that damn flash drive.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 50 - Nothing shocking

I guess I should write something, just not sure what that something is.  After all, it wasn't a great day, but it wasn't a bad day either, it was just there.  I did get a couple extra hours of sleep today, not crawling out of bed till almost 8am, and after putzing around on the computer for a while and getting dressed I finally went out to greet the day around 9:30 or so.  No big breakfasts or anything on the agenda, just a trip into work and some errands, hardly what would merit a life full of excitement.  

Instead it started with a trip downtown.  First to pay my phone bill and pick up a bus pass, then to go into work and place the order for Monday.  I also wanted to take a look at our Polar Shock machine, which has been acting up recently.  Polar Shock for those not in the know is pretty much the same thing as Slush Puppy, but Pepsi's version of it.  Since we have carried Slush Puppy in the past and are currently carrying Penguin Ice (again a similar product) Pepsi wanted to try selling their product at our location.  Since they were springing for the machine and the work needed to install it we let them throw a machine in our location.  Some of those machines work by mixing a flavored syrup with water and then adding it to the machine, but the Pepsi machine is a little different in that their product comes in boxes, much like their carbonated sodas do for fountain machines, and they tap into an existing waterline so that rather than going through the process of mixing up a batch by hand, when a flavor runs out you just replace the box with a new one.  All of that information has nothing to do with today's story by the way, but I started typing (poorly I might add, you should have seen the errors) and got side tracked.  The Polar Shock machine has two bins, one for each of the flavors we carry and a problem was arising when it came time for the machine to freeze the liquid into the gooey icy stuff kids love so much.  The bin on the right would work fine, it would freeze and everything, but when we kicked on the bin on the left the machine would overheat and in order to protect itself it would go into defrost mode and shut the motor off.  The only clue I had to what was wrong is that a message would be flashed on the display that "filter needs cleaning", which is all well and good, but I don't even know where the hell the filter on the machine is and if I should be cleaning it, or if I have to call in a service tech for that type of job.  I was shown how to clean out the bins and keep those properly maintained, but nobody told me anything about filters.  What little literature I had on my person (yes I am such a geek that I keep a Polar Shock cleaning guide in my bag) did not help me, but I did have a booklet stored away at work that I wanted to look at further.  A quick scan of it didn't tell me anything, but I wanted to take a longer look at it.  Good thing I did, they actually gave about three paragraphs out of a 40 page manual to say "Hey, don't forget to clean the filter".  Luckily it also showed where the filter was, of course it was in the back of the machine so I had to move half a dozen other things on the counter to get to it and then hope I could remove it without breaking it (there were no instructions on how to take it off, let alone how to take it off when you can't even see how it is attached).  But I managed to remove the filter and it was way clogged with dust and other particulate matter, so I took it over to the sink, washed it and then after letting it dry for a bit, reattached it and last I checked it was working okay.  Not great, but okay.  I had frozen beverage on both sides of the machine and it wasn't overheating, though it did try one to jump back into defrost mode.  

I also worked on a couple of side projects while at the store, it seems March 2nd is the day when Ed is coming back from Florida, which means this is the time Brian will get all panicky so that the store doesn't look terrible upon his dad's return.  I could tell Ed was getting antsy in Florida when he faxed me a list of things to see if we needed them a couple of weeks ago, only to fax me a list this week with many of the very same items on it.  And not items we sell a lot of to begin with, rather items like Do Rags and panty hose, things that we have had in the store for literally years and they haven't sold.  I am already getting ready for my tongue lashing that I am sure I will get.  I have done some things to make the store better, getting rid of some things that don't sell, getting others in that either do sell, or I am trying out in hopes that they do sell, redesigning sections of the store, looking for new products (somebody needs to remind me Monday morning to call our grocery provider and ask about Reese Peanut Butter Cup Chips Ahoy cookies, just saw them today while out and they are the bomb).  That being said, I am sure the store will not be perfect in Ed's eyes, and I will take a little grief over it and after a day or so he and I will be on the same page, just like last year.

Other than a brief day at work (only 3 hours) I did manage to finish off another book and start what plans on being a tome of a book.  It is very much in the early stages, I am only about 20 pages in, but I am thinking I may go to breakfast in the morning and take the book with me.  Hopefully tomorrow I will find my flash drive for work.  I have been keeping some information on it and I want to update a couple of files, but for whatever reason I can't seem to locate it.  The last I recall it was in one of my pants pockets, but I haven't located it in better than a week.  So far I have been able to work around not having it, but I would prefer finding it to redoing all of the work that was on it.  Yes,m I am already thinking of doing work at home tomorrow on my alleged day off.  I am indeed the social butterfly.  But for now I think I am just going to call it a night.

Stolen Content - Guess who?

fighting words

News Flash: The Taliban Violate Human Rights

The human rights community finally notices the Taliban's war crimes.

By Christopher Hitchens

Even in a week that concentrated all eyes on the magnificent courage and maturity of the people of Cairo, a report from Kabul began with what must surely be the most jaw-dropping opening paragraph of the year. Under the byline of the excellent Rod Nordland, the New York Times reported:

International and local human rights groups working in Afghanistan have shifted their focus toward condemning abuses committed by the Taliban insurgents, rather than those attributed to the American military and its allies.

The story went on to point out that the Taliban was culpable for "more than three-fourths of all civilian casualties" and informed us that some human-rights groups are now so concerned that they are thinking of indicting the Taliban for war crimes. "The activists' concern," Nordland went on, "would have been unheard-of a year ago," when all the outcry was directed at casualties inflicted by NATO contingents.

The story became more mind-boggling as it unfolded. One had to ask oneself what had taken the human-rights "community" so long. After all, there are war crimes and there is the crime (established at Nuremburg) of planning to wage aggressive war. The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in the first place by indiscriminate violence, played host to al-Qaida forces that murdered several thousand civilians in one day on American soil, and for almost a decade has been employing systematic cruelty against civilians and fighting an undeclared war, without uniforms or formal command structure, against a force that is upholding a U.N. mandate for the rebuilding of the country. Moreover, during its period in power, it ran the country as a vast concentration camp, enslaving the female population and conducting a campaign of extermination against the Hazara minority. How is it possible to mention this enormity in the same breath as the forces that are opposed to it?

The turning point, in the mind of the human rights "activists," appears to have occurred in late January, when a Taliban suicide-murderer killed at least 14 civilians in the Finest Supermarket in Kabul. Among the slain was a well-known local campaigner named Hamida Barmaki, whose husband and four small children were also killed. One wonders in what sense this was the Taliban going too far—women are killed and mutilated by them every single day in Afghanistan. Yet let the terror reach one of the upscale markets or hotels that cater to the NGO constituency in Kabul, and suddenly there is an abrupt change from moral neutrality.

Perhaps it is fortunate for the Taliban that they take few, if any, prisoners and maintain no places of detention—at least they don't have to face the righteous scrutiny of those who (like Amnesty International and Julian Assange) have seriously compared Guantanamo to the Gulag. Moreover, their refusal of any military discipline makes it hard if not impossible to distinguish their corpses from others who may have been killed in an airstrike. And can you imagine a Taliban fighter being disciplined by his "superiors" for murder, or demoted for lack of care toward the local population, as has happened several times with U.S. officers and soldiers? In a striking instance of the compliment that vice pays to virtue, sadistic Mullah Mohammed Omar, former dictator of Afghanistan and now Taliban commander, attempted to issue a "code of conduct" to his supporters in 2009. This was supposed to warn against the killing of innocents but seems only to have incited further brutality and the use of ever-more-random methods.

However, is it possible to imagine Mullah Omar going even that far if the NATO forces were not in the country to begin with? Plainly, he must have heard at least indirectly from elements of the local population (he appears to have his base across the Pakistani border in Quetta) that there is some perceptible difference between opening a clinic and destroying it; between starting a village school for girls and setting it on fire or hurling acid in the faces of the pupils; between guarding polling booths and visiting villagers at night to intimidate them not to vote.

I'll concede that something remotely like the same is true of NATO's previous over-reliance on airstrikes and infliction of consequent damage. After representations from the Afghan authorities, those rules of engagement have been amended. And indeed, American soldiers are under instructions to risk their own lives rather than to err on the side of anything resembling indiscriminate ground fire. (One sometimes wishes those same Afghan authorities were more deserving of the sacrifices that are made on their behalf.) But learning from previous misapplied tactics is altogether different from persisting with random suicide-murder, roadside bombs aimed at the most vulnerable, deliberate targeting of females, and the other elements of the Taliban armory.

I can only too well remember attending some press conferences in Pakistan in the winter of 2001 and seeing the unbearably smug expressions on the faces of various human rights and "relief" spokesmen who were concerned lest the military operation against the Taliban should disrupt their relatively modest efforts. They failed or refused to see that the removal of the Taliban was a necessary precondition of any serious relief and reconstruction. It's heartening to learn that, almost a decade later, they are at least open to the awareness that the Taliban is the worst offender. The next stage—may it come soon—will be the realization that the Taliban does not "violate" human rights, but entirely lacks the concept of their existence.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 49 - The Spring Collection

   I thought I would take the time to use one of my 365 entries to introduce my Diablo 2 character, Yahoo.  Don't ask me why I picked that name, mainly it was because I am playing a paladin and I figured it would be a sucky experience, so what better way to describe such an experience than by naming it after a sucky online experience, that being Yahoo..

     The first screen is a very basic shot of my character.  You will note on the equipment screen the bottom third or so is full of boxes and that there are a number of items placed there.  That is what the character is able to carry at any given time.  There is a blue book which is a Tome of Town Portal, allowing the character to teleport back to the base camp of whichever act they are playing, and at the bottom of the second column is a key (actually 12 of them, but it is designated with just one) which allow you to open locked chests that can be encountered through the game.  The rest of the objects are called charms.  Charms can be found throughout the game and the grant the owner certain bonuses as long as they are carried on ones person.  They are not necessary, but they are helpful.  I currently am carrying 16 of them, and rather than do a point and click on each one I will just give you a brief rundown of all of my collective bonuses;

+2 maximum damage, +16 attack rating, +4 dexterity, +6 strength,  1-4 lightning damage, 4-8 fire damage, poison resist +31%, lightning resist +5%, +21 poison damage over 3 seconds, +18 defense, +7 life, 1-2 cold damage

What that all means is this as far as what my character looks like from a strictly statistical standpoint

As for the equipment I am currently wearing, well it isn't great by any stretch, it rarely is this early in the game, but if I am going to offer the entire spring collection than it is only appropriate that I cover everything I am wearing

No better place to start than with the armor I am wearing. 

The blue lettering means that the item is simply common magical.  Not that ancient armor is common, but that of all the types of items that one can find or create in the game, magical is the most common of them.

Next up would be the helm.  You'll note that the name, unlike the armor, is in yellow, which signifies that not only is it a magic item, but a rare magic item.  There are three types of magic items in the game, common, rare and unique.  Commons are just that, common, rares are less frequent but still relatively random in the game.  Uniques are one of a kind items and the hardest of the magic items to find.  Unlike common or rares, the magical abilities of uniques are not variable, they are set in stone and a list of them can be found on Blizzard's Diablo 2 page.

The belt is another rare magic item, and that is all I can really say about it.

Another rare magic item would be the gloves that I am currently wearing.  Don't worry, not everything is simply of the magical variety.

There are also some items that are socketed, that is they can be granted bonuses by by inserting into them jewels, gems or runes.  In this particular instance the item involved has three sockets, which I have filled with three gems (for purposes of game classification skulls would be considered gems).  Also of note is the fact that the weapon is class specific, that is only certain classes can either use an item or get the bonuses from it.  In the case of a scepter, that would be a paladin specific weapon, and this one grants me a +2 to one of my paladin abilities (charge).

But wait, there is more to the Diablo 2 learning curve and this can add to that learning process.  One of the things about socketed items is that, like I said previously, is that you can place either gems, jewels or runes.  The thing about runes is that there are what can best be described rune recipes, combinations of runes that if the item has the proper number of sockets and the appropriate runes are inserted in the proper order, you can get significant bonuses for it.  The most basic of these is the Ancient's Pledge, which is almost given away in the game during Act 3.  If you find a three socketed shield and have the runes Ral, Ort and Tal and enter them in that exact order, you have gotten one of the many recipes.  The Diablo 2 site has a list of all of the possibities, and in this case I am using that very recipe.  I should note that the crown shield, like the scepter in the last picture, is also a class specific item.  For Paladin's only.  No Dogs Allowed.

Finally the footwear and now you get to see just what a unique magic item looks like.  Rather than yellow lettering, the lettering comes in gold.  And these items are one of a kind, so should I run across pair of these specific chain boots in the game,  the stats on them will be exactly the same as these. 

Lastly, a character may wear two rings and one amulet.  Rather than bore you with details on each item I figured I would just lump them altogether here at the bottom.  And when you put all of these items together on a character, they look something like this

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 48 - Someone's cake (and I am eating it too)

Good thing I got the book teasers out of the way yesterday because surprisingly when I got home today there was my box from Amazon, sitting right inside my door.  It was everything that my last two deliveries from Amazon weren't in that when I placed the order on the 14th.  For instance I mentioned that I get free shipping on orders over $25.  The thing with the free shipping is that it is supposed to take 5 to 7 business days, and as we know that can be much, much longer.  Instead I got free shipping in 3 days this time, which is good, I am nearing the end on "The Johnstown Flood" and now I will have plenty of reading material through the next couple of weeks as well.  And the delivery guy actually left the package inside my door since I wasn't home, no trek to the post office to stand in line and be annoyed for 30-45 minutes at help that make a fine argument for government waste.

That wasn't the only good thing, obviously any time that the weather in winter hits 64 degrees outside it just makes for a better day all around.  Plus I am having cake for breakfast tomorrow.  Not sure where it came from, but it is cake and I am all about eating cake, especially with a cup of coffee to wash it down.

The cake story goes something like this, Sammy told me today that his grandson was coming in the store today.  And I knew that Sammy's birthday was coming up, but I didn't know when.  Anyway I had left to go place the Friday grocery order for our other store and when I got back it turns out I had missed Sammy's daughter and grandson, but there was cake.  I assume they brought it for his birthday and thankfully they saved me a piece, but because I was so busy today (Thursdays are by far my worst day) I just wrapped the cake and put it in the cooler in the basement.  Then just before leaving today Sammy say's "hey, don't forget your cake" and I am thinking that it would make for a better breakfast tomorrow when I get to work, so there you have it.  

Well I should be turning in, I am actually looking forward to bed after a long day where we had 200 cases of product come in and I had to place two orders and break down two invoices.  Plus the sooner I go to bed the sooner I can crack open my book again.  Bed is one of the few times I get to do any reading, save for the bus ride to and from work, so the sooner I get there the sooner I get reading.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 47 - Teasers revealed

The thing about not saying too much is that it leaves room to blog again later, so here are the three books I picked up yesterday for free.  First is the first very book in the Spenser series, I think it was written in 1973, so here is hoping I can remember all of the cultural references from back then, since I was 4 and all

Next was the book in which I mentioned seeing the interview on TV.  From what I gather this is going to be the tome of a book, so I might be at this one for a while, even if I do find the subject matter more interesting than most.

Finally there was this one, which might be interesting, it might not be, but it was what I needed to get over the $25 threshold and qualify for free shipping. 
In case the Swagbucks people are still reviewing my blog for consideration (and really, who are we kidding, they obviously are not) all books were bought and paid for with Swagbucks/Amazon gift cards which proves once again that I am cheap.  I think my next date will happen when I save up enough Swagbucks to get an inflatable doll (and that comment will most surely remove me from consideration). 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 46 - Updates

It has been nearly a month since I last updated the change meter on this page, and all I can say it the last month has been so so as far as the found monies go.  I did scoop up some cash, enough that I can add $2.76 to the total, but it seems like that $200 barrier is just harder and harder to get to.  With the additional cash the change meter sits at 196.39.  

Since I have started this blog with updates I will continue along the same vein.  I mentioned this past weekend that I was hoping to kill Baal in Diablo 2 and move on to the next level, nightmare.  Suffice it to say, mission accomplished.  Not only did I deliver the old beat down, I didn't even die in the process.  I have since started the next level, completing the first quest (I also defeated the secret Cow level on normal) so all is moving okay there I guess, not as though you are all that concerned about my gaming exploits.

And I did address one other issue.  I had purchased three books recently,. two of which I have already finished and I am about halfway through the third one, so of course that meant I had to hop back on Amazon and buy three more.  Two more non fictions and one fiction.  Actually one of the non fictions I have been waiting for to come out in paperback.  I had seen an interview with the author on TV and immediately went looking for the book, only to find it was only available in hardback, and at the time it was running like $25 or so, a little too much cash for me to be spending on one book.  But I saw that on Feb 1st the paperback edition was going to be released, so I held out until yesterday, then of course I scooped it up.  I don't want to go divulging titles, I'd rather wait and save that for the Neverending Thread when I finish it,.  I will say that I did run into the newest Chris Jericho book, and almost bought it as well, but the combined total of the two books came to $24.99.  The thing is, for one more penny I could get free shipping and handling.  So instead I tossed the Jericho book back for another day and snagged two other paperbacks instead.  Which I guess is fine, the Jericho book will probably come down in price, and it gives me a chance to earn more money from Amazon.  I cashed in one gift card yesterday before placing my order, and just bought another $5 card today, so hopefully when I run through the next 3 and half books I will have enough money saved up for another card.

And really, that is about it for the updates for one evening.  Time to settle in with some chicken sandwiches and iced tea and call it a night.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 45 - Bizzaro World

I think that there are days where I blog too early.  Like yesterday when I got up, was feeling ever so productive and banged out my blog entry before noon.  That usually doesn't happen just because at noon I am at work most days, and on the one day where I could do it, it turns out I probably should have waited.

There is an old sporting joke that has been used before, the "I went to a fight and a (insert sport here) broke out" and that is pretty much what happened Friday night when the Penguins played the New York Islanders.  The teams combined for over 60 penalties, 346 penalty minutes, 10 ejections, 3 subsequent suspensions and 3 players and one team being fined by the NHL.  Sunday afternoon Penguins owner Mario Lemieux released the following statement;

“Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be. But what happened Friday night on Long Island wasn’t hockey. It was a travesty. It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that.

“The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed.

“We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players. We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action.

“If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it.”

Now don't get me wrong, Lemieux has done plenty that garners my admiration.  He was one of the best players I ever had the chance of seeing play in my lifetime, Gretzky may have been better, but that is neither here nor there.  His courage while fighting Hodgkin's disease was amazing and what he did in somehow taking a franchise that was on the verge of at best relocating and at worst disappearing altogether and making it not only a viable hockey team but one that has been recognized as one of the best run in all of professional sports.  I take none of that lightly.  Still, when he calls out the NHL for how it handled the situation Friday night it is a little disingenuous.  It was in this very blog about a year ago that I question the hit Matt Cooke, one of Lemieux's employees, delivered to Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins.  And it is the Pittsburgh Penguins who lead the entire NHL this year in fighting majors, so it isn't like this problem just surfaced.  One of the events that brought about the brawls that took place Friday was the last game played between the Islanders and the Penguins, where a number of questionable hits were delivered by both teams and the end of the game saw the two goalies square off only to see the Islanders netminder Rick DiPietro end up with broken bones in his face.  So it is hard to have Lemieux complain about the over agressiveness in the game when some of the guilty parties can be found on his very own payroll.

Not that we are done revisiting the past, another gem from last year was the massive snowfall that shut the city down.  One of the problems that resulted from that snowfall and the city's ineffectiveness in cleaning the streets in a timely fashion was that Curtis Mitchell of Hazelwood died, when he called 911 saying that he felt ill but the paramedics couldn't reach him.  Part of that problem was a paramedic Josie Dimon, wanted Mitchell to walk down the hill to the paramedic unit, something Mr. Mitchell said he couldn't do in his condition.  Dimon was then heard on the 911 recording saying to a coworker "He ain't (expletive) comin' down, and I ain't waitin' all day for him. I mean, what the (expletive), this ain't no cab service."  Dimon was subsequently removed of her duties as a paramedic.   Why am I revisiting ancient history you ask?  Because an arbitrator determined today that Ms. Dimon should be reinstated to her old job with back pay.  Dying in Pittsburgh just got a little easier, all you have to do is dial 911.

Penguins @ Rangers 2/13/11

Rangers 5 Penguins 3

Deryk Engelland, Nick Johnson, Brett Sterling - G each

Penguins blow early two goal lead

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 44 - TITIT, #7 even

     I didn't think I would be going here this quickly, but alas I am.  I hope that this doesn't become a recurring theme, I hope my creative juices aren't so spent that I am just wallowing in TITIT blogs for the rest of the year, but events since the last blog entry have piqued my curiosity, best I get them on paper now than wait until later on to comment on them, where I would have a better than even chance of forgetting them entirely.

     The first I should make note of is the passing of Chuck Tanner.  Tanner was the Pittsburgh Pirates manager from 1977-1985, winning one World Series as Pittsburgh's manager in 1979.  Tanner wasn't the type to go on a screaming tirade to his players, rather he was the optimistic sort, at times maybe too much so.  For him it was a joy to be at the ballpark every day, an attitude that is becoming less and less prevalent in pro sports across the board, where money and self promotion are king.  Sadly, for all of his positive reinforcement, the players and ownership tended to let him down time and time again, including the scandalous drug trials which ended up taking place in Pittsburgh and management going out and signing such non stalwarts as Amos Otis, who came to Pittsburgh literally with a hole in his glove.  Otis had used the same glove throughout his major league career and by the time he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates it had an actual hole in it.  Nonetheless, Tanner retained a positive attitude during his tenure. Other managers might have benched players, or screamed from the roof tops that ownership was keeping him from fielding a competitive team, but that just wasn't Tanner's way.  Pittsburgh was lucky to have Tanner as long as they did.  

     I was watching the news this bright and early Sunday morning when what should my wandering eyes see but a burger contest.  I can't even begin to describe how angry and frustrated I get when such idiocy is passed off as news,  or that the newscast then tells you to check out the station's website, so that they might accumulate more traffic, thereby increasing advertising revenues from those companies that advertise on said site.  What really irks me about the list was that Five Guys Burgers and Fries was one of the ten finalists.  Don't get me wrong, I have been to Five Guys and haven't gotten sick from the experience, but please tell me that the city of Pittsburgh isn't so bland of a market for quality food that a fast food chain restaurant is one of the 10 best anything here.  What, the Bic Mac wasn't available?  At least that was invented here, but damn of all of the places in this city to eat the best you can come up with is fast food.  I think I just died a little inside.

     The 2011 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) finished up in Washington DC and the only thing that came out of it that made sense was what Donald Trump said.  God forbid I should agree with him on anything, Trump is at best a master at self promotion, usually at the ridicule of others.  Don't believe me, look at his most recent cast of characters for his "Celebrity Apprentice" show, a bunch of B-list stars with short fuses that Trump managed to gather together more for his own amusement than anything else.  I know that weekly winners and the eventual apprentice have money donated to their charity, but if Trump was really that geeked up for charitalbe endeavors, he could have done so without the self promotion involved.  And while there is money donated to charity, the show is no doubt making Trump a few coins in his pocket as well. All of that being said, Trump was dead on the money at CPAC, where he was asked to speak, when he said that Ron Paul doesn't stand a chance to win if he is the Republican nominee.  Paul won the straw poll that was conducted by CPAC (he won the 2010 as well), but these type of groups tend to gravitate to the fringe elements of the party, rather than the realists.  If by some unknown set of circumstances Ron Paul were to be the Republican nominee in 2012 (perhaps by being the last man left on earth after the Mayan prediction of the end of the world in 2012) it would make a reelection of Obama all but a sure thing.  We would get to revisit the racist memos that came out of Paul's office 20 years ago, memos that Paul says he never wrote but didn't vet carefully enough.  Whether that is a truthful statement on Ron Paul's part or not is irrelevant, it will become an issue and in instances such as these truth is rarely considered one way or the other.  The only thing that matters is the ability to make it a talking point, and trust me, there will be many who would do just that. 

     Tonight is another one of those "let's pat ourselves on the back moments" with the latest rendition of the Grammy awards, where an industry that once again spent the last year marketing shit gets together to say job well done.  I will say that the only plus to this past year in music is that it was a great way to cut down on music piracy on the web, make stuff so bad that nobody will want to download it and you have solved the problem.  To make a marketable record these days you just need to do the following in some type of lyrical form;  use the word bitch or ho (or better, both), yammer about getting drunk and allude to the fact that you like to fuck.  Take these three elements and combine them in some form of a recording with any old background beat for about 3 to 4 minutes and you have yourself a winner.  Being able to carry a tune is no longer a requirement, any vocals will be so over processed that the singer will sound like The Robot from Lost in Space.

     I don't want to call it a guilty pleasure, because it isn't pleasurable so much as a leftover bad habit from my radio days, but watching Meet the Press can be painful on mornings like this.  I am not a fan of the House Majority Leader John Boehner, but David Gregory's insistence on repeating a question that was just answered is quite annoying.  Prime example was when he showed a clip from Fox News about a panel of people who were asked if they believed the President was a Muslim and a significant number raised their hands (because all Muslims are evil, but that is another issue for another time) and then asked Boehner whether he bears some responsibility in correcting the electorate on their misconceptions.  When Boehner said no, that wasn't his job it should have stopped there, instead Gregory asked the question at least three more times in hopes of getting a different answer.  Mr. Gregory, the way to marginalize the moronic portion of the electorate is not to continue to give them airplay and when you don't get the answer you want over a stupid issue opt to repeat the question, but rather to accept the fact there are always going to be stupid people out there, resist the urge to give their insane ideas a platform and move on to actual issues.

     I can tell that I am getting old when I look at Dee Dee Myers and think "you know, she is kinda hot." 

     Rugby is scheduled to be an Olympic sport again in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.  The last time that rugby was an Olympic sport was in 1924, when the United States won the gold medal.  That being said, it is safe to say since 1924 rugby has been at best an afterthought in the United States, so much so that it would make soccer seem popular by comparison.  So excuse me if I laugh a little when I see that the US 7s team is marketing a video titled "A Giant Awakens", as if simply by rugby once again being an Olympic sport, the United States team is going to defend its 1924 gold medal.  Right now, if I had a shovel and dug all of the members of the 1924 team out of the cold, cold ground, I'd give them even money to beat the current American squad.  Forget about medaling, far better it be that the U.S. 7s squad doesn't go to South America and embarrass itself.  That is about all that can be realistically hoped for. 

     I think I have pontificated enough for one day.  There is iced tea to be drunk and hockey to be watched on my day off, and that is all I realistically need on my day off. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 43 - Still employed

While you were sleeping, guess what I did?  If you guessed slept you are correct.  And then I woke up around 9am, puttered about the apartment for 30 minutes or so and went back to bed.  By the time I woke up and started actually doing things today it was 2pm.  Rest, glorious rest.

Of course I still had to go into work and put Monday's order in.  Since it technically doesn't have to be in until Sunday, I still wasn't in that much of a rush.  Instead I went out and picked up my bus pass for next week, then meandered downtown while reading my newest book on the bus.  I got into town in relative short order, but instead of heading right to work I detoured to Smithfield Outlet, just to see if they had any goodies on sale.  Not much to report on that front sadly.  All of the Little Debbie snack cakes were gone, they usually sell them and 79 cents a box or 3 boxes for $2, and the family size potato chips that they sell for $1.49 a bag were also gone.  They had bbq and sour cream ones, but I prefer the regular old chips, then if I want dip I will buy that separately, rather than have my chips preseasoned.  Instead I went with the the tortilla chips )also $1.49) and salsa instead as my evening snack, of which I am snacking on as I write this.  I figured it would go well with some fried chicken sandwiches and wouldn't you know it did.  

Finally I made it into work, somewhere around 3pm, spent about an hour and a half putting together the Monday order, went to send it in and the phone line was busy.  I called back around 6 times, but just kept getting the busy signal, so instead I just brought my Texlon home and sent the order from here.  

Other than that it has been a pretty quiet day.  I did hop onto Battlenet last nite to play some Diablo 2.  I am at a crossroads with that game.  I should note that I have already beaten it, many moons ago, but since then there have been upgrades to the game in the form of patches, the easiest way to get those is to log onto the Battlenet page and they will automatically download them for you.  And the patches make the game much more challenging, by the third time through the game (each time you beat the game it opens up in a harder level, normal, nightmare and hell) everything you fight, even the smallest creatures are resistant to damage in one form or another.  The worst are the bosses that are immune to physical damage and have stone skin.  It can take the better part of an hour for even a high level player to beat something like that.  And I was about halfway through the modified hell level when my last computer just died.  I had my "Office Space" moment with it after its death, then realized that I am going to have to go back to square one with Diablo 2 all over again.  It also gave me a chance to restart the online version on Battlenet as well.  The crossroads I am at involved the fact that in the home version I am one big fight away from taking a paladin from the normal level up to nightmare, while the online version I was looking to complete the first act of normal with an amazon.  I opted for online last night, it was the easier of the two and after about an hour of gameplay I cracked open the second act. Then I stopped, climbed into bed with my book and was asleep in about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in Egypt Mubarak does indeed step down.  I have no idea how this will play out, pretty much no one does, otherwise they would have been predicting this long before it happened, so to hear them now on TV talking all glowingly about how things will unfold from this point on is a tad bit disingenuous.  No one really knows how this will ultimately turn out, so any utterances to the contrary are just talking heads happy to hear themselves speak.  The only definite thing we know is Mubarak is out of work, and I hate to break it to him, but last I checked we weren't hiring.

I could ramble on, but I am sure that would bore you and me both.  Maybe tomorrow I will be more talkative, or type-ative as the case may be.  But for now I am going to call it a night.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 42 - Shorter and shorter

I'm tired.  What can I say, it was a long day.  It was one of those days where not that everything went wrong, but was ill timed.  As a result I felt like I was constantly playing catch up.  It all started with Clare calling off.  Normally Clare works in the deli with Rick, but her presence there allows Rick to do other things as well.  In that regard it is a relationship not unlike the one I have with Sammy, where by having him I am able to do a bunch of other things, like placing orders, breaking down invoices, etc.  With Clare not there, that meant some of the other things Rick does ahd to be handled by other people, so he couldn't put away his order today or run to the bank to get the weekend change, both tasks fell to others, namely me.  Still that wouldn't have been bad save for the fact that both trucks we were to receive to day, a grocery order and a Coke delivery were both late and then both arrived at the same time, at a point where we had sent Sammy to Office Depot to pick up some supplies, toner for the copier and stuff like that.  From there it just spiralled into a clusterfuck of a day where I was happy just to keep my head above water, forget about having anything resembling a productive day.  

The only plus to the whole fiasco was that on the bus ride home I managed to finish my book, of course I have already cracked the next one though I am very much in the early stages of it.  But it provides me something to do on evenings like this, where all I want to do now is curl up with a good book and go to sleep.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 41 - Bored

Just sitting here frying up a chicken breast for sammiches, as the locals sometimes say.  Other than that I can't think of a whole heck of a lot that is really going on that is noteworthy or otherwise.  

Work was what work was, nothing really exciting there either.  The only slightly different thing there recently was that Sammy and I took some food in this week, I still had leftover lasagna, it was so packed with meat and veggies that if I ate two pieces I was completely full, yet I made an entire pan of it.  Sammy brought in some burgers and fried chicken, both of which were very yummy.  I am starting to think my little basement crew has more talent than first realized.  Even our deli people are wanting us to cook, not that I ever had a doubt about my cooking ability, I have worked enough places in the past that I am more than comfortable in the kitchen, but cooking is something that nobody else at work would really know me for.  I have been known for many things at work, a pretty good worker, sometimes funny, and definitely a person to drink with, the cooking thing just adds to the persona a little bit.  Of course I am also temperamental, can be mean spirited and don't suffer fools gladly as well, so there are minuses to me as well.  

Really though, beyond that there is absolutely nothing to report.  It was nice to read in the paper the other day that like US Steel in its memo to employees, it turns out the county jail had 80 guards call off for the Super Bowl and now those 80 people need to come in with a valid doctor's slip before they will be allowed to work again.  At least in some places around here sanity reigns supreme.  

Well I will not bore you with anything else, or pretend like my heart is even remotely in this this evening.  I am closing in on finishing another book, and that sounds like a good idea right now before bed.  Happy reading.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 40 - Underachievements

      I give up.  And I have no one to blame for my failure but me.  See,. I have been playing Madden on Facebook, a football app where you collect cards to improve your team, thereby making the team better.  As is the case with the app, sometimes they will offer bonus achievements to shoot for and which you will be rewarded.  One such achievement is taking place even as I write this entry.  The trick is to collect enough Green Bay Packer cards so that every person in your starting lineup is a Green Bay Packer, in honor of the Packers winning the Super Bowl.  The prize for doing so is 1 million coins, good enough to accomplish a lot of things, whether that be finishing off a stadium, buying gamebreakers, adding to your card collection, whatever, but 1 million coins is plenty of spending cash for the game.  But stupid me didn't pay attention to the rules, I though that it had to be accomplished by the 7th,k the day after the Super Bowl, so I was spending my time this past weekend buy lots of crappy card packs, cards that had no chance of helping my team, but that if I was lucky enough in the draw, might contain some Packers to get me closer to the achievement.  The only problem with that logic is the achievement wasn't Monday, it was Wednesday, so all of the coins I blew this weekend on shitty cards could have been spend solely on Green Bay Packer card sets.  While I may only have been able to buy one or two of those, each one costs 175,000 coins, I only needed 4 cards to field a lineup and the odds would have been better if I was only buying Packers (though I would have run the risk of buying duplicate cards) as opposed to buying cards from the entire league instead.

     Of course I realized my error Monday when no such achievement was available, but by then it was too late.  Sure I still had a snowball's chance of getting it, I had two free cards coming to me from Pro League 3, plus I could save up my coins in hopes of getting lucky and getting one of the Packer Player of the Week cards that were issued Monday, but those were only available in Platinum (90,000 coins) and Ultimate (150,000 coins) packs, which would take a while for me to collect.  I figured I might as well go for the larger of the two because even if I didn't get the Packers I needed, I might be able to hit a couple of minor achievements, one for getting a team rank of 100 or more (I am at 99) or one for collecting 25 New York Giants cards (I have 24).  After nearly two days of working to collect enough coins for the Ultimate pack, I finally hit my goal this afternoon.  The result was an abject failure.  Of the 5 cards I got out of the Ultimate pack, only one was an actual Ultimate card, the other 4 were all Platinum.  Since everyone in my starting lineup is at least of Ultimate rank (90 or higher), that made the four Platinum cards all but useless (to add to my aggravation none of the cards were Packers).  The one Ultimate card was useful, a 99 Jared Allen, but his slight bump over a 95 Robert Mathis I had been playing wasn't enough to get the team rating to 100.  The only real plus out of the pack of cards was that I got a bonus head coach card, the Mike Tomlin card which grants double coins on all wins for as long as he is head coach (4 days unless renewed).  That will make getting the more valuable packs easier, but now there just isn't enough time.  The bonus achievement ends in about 3 hours and even if I play all of my scrimmages between now and then there just isn't enough time for me to get what I need.  So instead I figure I would complain about my stupidity on the blog page.  Seems I am not as smart as I think I am some days. But then this is just one of those days where a pen I had behind my ear managed to explode sending ink through my hair, so we just chalk the whole thing up to suck and move on.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 39 - The TITIT (#6) returns

One of the general plans of this blog project was not to include any of the recurring features in it. The main reason for that is by and large those features had some semblance of borrowed material to them. Whether they be the karaoke posts, hockey videos, stolen content, or even the asshats, they all reference back to something else that is already on the web. One however does not, and that would be the Things I Think I Think, or TITIT blogs. Since those are just part of my own cranial rumblings, I am comfortable enough to make an exception for them when it comes to the Multiply 365 project. So, the people that bring you the Multiply 365 project are proud to present TITIT #6.

Kudos to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who save for a loss Sunday to the Washington Capitals, have played some inspired hockey sans the talents of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Since Crosby has left the lineup with a concussion, the Penguins are 8-4-1. That being said, with Malkin out for the season, and Crosby still not back in the lineup, the roster as it is currently constituted just isn't good enough to make a deep playoff run. Perhaps Crosby will make it back in time to be a factor before the season ends (to which I am keeping my fingers crossed), but without him the Penguins go from a Stanley Cup favorite to Stanley Cup afterthought.

I know that Troy Polamalu was voted Defensive Player of the Year by the NFL, but you would be hard pressed to confirm that by his play in the postseason. The Steelers made it to the Super Bowl despite him, not because of him.

Seeing Slash on stage of the Super Bowl halftime show playing guitar while Fergie proceeded to butcher the G N R catalog with her rendition of Sweet Child of Mine makes Slash less of a master of the guitar and more just the Black Eyed Peas bitch.

Kudos to the management at US Steel who sent out a memo stating that anyone who called off sick on Sunday or Monday without just cause so that they could sit home and watch the Super Bowl would face disciplinary action and may be fired for doing so. I get it, it's a big game, and I get it in that I am a sports fan but at the end of the day it is just a game and at some point sanity has to enter into the equation. The world doesn't shut down just because you want to sit on your ass, the world will gladly move on without you. In a time where unemployment in the region hovers around 9% if you believe that a game is more important than your job, I am sure there are plenty of people out there who will more than willingly take your place.

Most ironic moment of the Super Bowl; the military did their customary fly over even though the roof on Cowboys Stadium was closed, meaning that people who had paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to be in attendance got to watch the flyover just like the rest of us, on TV.

As bad as the halftime show was, it still doesn't compare to Ashley Simpson at the Orange Bowl, a spectacle that was so bad that the 80,000 in attendance booed her off the stage afterward.

Major League Baseball is just around the corner, the first real sign of spring. Pitchers and catchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates are scheduled to report in 7 days to Bradenton Florida. That means there are only 8 days until the Pirates are officially removed from playoff contention.

Lastly I will say this to the State Department when it comes to the events in Egypt; Leave it alone. Far too much time and money has been spent propping up what best can be described as a psuedo-dictator in Mubarak to think that you will come in on a white horse to save the day and restore order. Credibility tends to get lost when you willingly support a leader who regularly stops on such ideals and freedom of speech, press and expression. While the policies regarding Egypt were not explicitly linked to the current administration (though it too viewed Mubarak as an ally), it was just as guilty in turning a blind eye to the events that were taking place to somehow now expect to be seen as anything less than complicit in the sufferings of the Egyptian people. Maybe when the process eventually unfolds there will be a chance to once again build bridges, but that time is not now, Now is simply the time to sit back and see the chaos and disorder that you helped foment by your previous actions or lack thereof.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 38 - Post game

Well the title of the last blog entry pretty much begat the title of the current blog entry.  And both of those entries can mean only one things, since the last time I wrote a game of some sort took place.  And for those that either read the page or are even somewhat aware of their surroundings, then you know that that particular game was in fact the Super Bowl.  I have a secret to tell you, I didn't watch it.  Not that I didn't have it on, I had the game on my radio, but since I don't have cable for me to tune in the game would have involved a Twister like process in order to get the signal in my apartment.  I know what you are thinking, don't you usually watch the games on the web?  Well yes, yes I do.  Except the two sites I usually visit for streaming sports, or, were both shut down by Homeland Security for violating broadcast copyrights.  I am glad that Homeland Security stepped in, after all, if you can stream the Super Bowl on the web then surely the terrorists have won.   Not that that is all Homeland Security was up to, they also spent part of the week cracking down on people selling NFL merchandise that was not officially sanctioned by the league.  

     The game itself was okay, not great but not terrible.  The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25, which made for a great sociological experiment today in Pittsburgh, as plenty of people had taken off expecting to celebrate into the wee hours only to be vastly disappointed, creating a somber atmosphere in the city for those few people that bothered to venture out.  Honesty point #2, I wasn't all that upset about the outcome.  There are some teams that, after growing up here for 41 years now, that are just rivals and teams you could never really get behind.  The Packers just aren't one of those teams.  There is nothing to really hate about them, hell the fact they were the first franchise to have the balls to kick Brett Favre to the curb actually earns my respect.  And while it wasn't the best played game, the Steelers turned the ball over 3 times, and each one led directly to a Packers touchdown.  Yet with 2 minutes to go the game's result was still very much in question, which is really about all you can expect of a game like this.  

     But there were other things underway besides the game in my household.  I decided to try an experimental lasagna.  That is, I wanted to do a couple of things I don't normally do, just to see what would happen.  So instead of the normal cheese and ground beef variety lasagna I am prone to make, I replaced the ground beef with soup meatballs.  One of the advantages of my little Italian store on the corner is that while they sell heat and eat meatballs for things like spaghetti, they also sell the smaller ones for stuff like wedding soup, which would be perfect for my experiment.  To add to the mix, I diced up one white onion, one green pepper and slide a package of mushrooms and tossed them all in a bowl.  I then mixed in some garlic and oregano with the vegetable mix and tossed them so that the spices would mix all through the veggies.  I went ahead and boiled off the lasagna noodles and started by putting a layer of sauce in the lasagna pan.  This is a trick I learned that helps keep the doodles from sticking to the pan, and a layer of sauce first.  Then it was a layer of noodles, more sauce, the veggie mix, the mini meatballs and cheese.  For cheeses I used shredded provolone, mozzarella, asiago, parmesan,   I repeated the process until the pan was full, which didn't take as long as one would think with that much stuff between layers.  Turns out with that much stuff it drastically altered the cooking time.  Perhaps I should have sauteed the veggies first to soften them up a bit, because normal cooking time did not cook the veggies.  It ended up taking an additional 20-30 given how packed it was, but man was it worth it.  I ate two pieces and was completely stuffed.

     It was better that I didn't watch the game anyway.  Christina Aguliera was scheduled to sing the national anthem, which would be fine if she could have remembered the words.  Silly that, a song with words in it.  Maybe next time she will hum.  And from what I understand the halftime show with the Black Eyed Peas was not much better.  From what I saw on Youtube it could best be described as like a bad cover version of Black Eyed Peas.  Given there is no such thing as good Black Eyed Peas, that just means it is a bad cover of a bad band.  It is okay though if a band butchers their own music, what was worse was that they let Slash be part of it, having him on guitar while Fergie took her hand at destroying "Sweet Child of Mine".  

    Oh well, there is always next year provided there isn't a work stoppage.  Until then it is hockey season.  And I am perfectly fine with that.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Multiply 365 Day 37 - Pregame

T minus 8 hours and change till kickoff round these parts.  I am all tucked away in my apartment, where hopefully some semblance of sanity will prevail.  Security measures have already been put in place should Pittsburgh win the Super Bowl later on today.  Forbes Avenue in Oakland and Carson Street in the South Side will both be closed after the game for the expected revelers would will be drunk and disorderly.  Notes have been plastered in Oakland warning those that may get out of line, such as the burning of furniture or other acts of vandalism.  One of the things that some people do around here is that when they get new furniture for their apartment and what not, they will take the older couches, chairs, etc. and use them as patio furniture.  Then, when something of what they deem is worth celebrating, they will take said furniture and throw it out in the street and light it on fire.  Don't worry if you don't understand the logic of it, I really don't either, I just know it happens.  And remember, this is the same town that said they should delay school tomorrow out of safety concerns for the students, when in actuality we all know what the real reason is, so faculty and staff can get drunk during the game.  They can coddle it in whatever verbiage they wish, anyone with an iota of common sense knows exactly why the delay is taking place.

I am just sitting here, getting ready for the hockey game that will be on TV first, the Penguins and the Capitals, and watching a couple of videos to pick up some free Swagbucks.  I just cashed out for another $5 Amazon card yesterday (I told you I would have it before the weekend was over) so I am back to the beginning of trying to build up points to get to the next one.  I am at 48 of the 450 needed so far, but I am getting 2 for each video I watch.  Watching is a subjective term in this case, I have them running, but muted and off to the side while I am working on this blog entry, so I am almost multitasking, getting Swagbucks while blogging.

I mentioned previously that I had submitted my blog to the people at Swagbucks, I don't know exactly how that program was going to work, if it was featured bloggers or whatever, but since I haven't heard back from them I have to assume I wasn't selected.  Just as well, I don't need people coming around the page who have no desire to be here.  I have bigger, more important things to worry about.

I have to admit that recently this blog has paid almost no attention to politics whatsoever.  That really wasn't a conscious choice on my part, but rather a matter of self imposed priorities, what I want to talk about takes precedence over what else is going on.  There are other places to get ample fixes for those that are jonesing for politics.  And the biggest issue of the day, what is taking place in Egypt, is something of which I can claim enough ignorance that any opinion I may offer should be tempered with the notion that I really don't know what the hell it is I am talking about.  And let me say something, I wish far more people would take that approach, I know I would have more respect for them if they did.   There are plenty of things of which I do not know, I have a vague understanding, but not nearly enough for me to go running my mouth or my keyboard as if I know more than I do.  And I lack the requisite inertia to go on a crash course fact finding mission to come up with an opinion on the matter.

10 bucks so far while writing this.  Multitasking indeed.  I wish I could be this productive all of the time.  I got most of my Facebook apps out of the way already this morning, after consuming a fine breakfast from Pamela's.  The breakfast wasn't something I planned on, but I woke up early enough and I wanted to start my new book, so book in hand I ventured up there and grabbed me some eggs, ham and hotcakes and sat down for a little light reading.  I did the same thing yesterday after work, when I went out to lunch after getting the order done for work, I hopped a bus and had lunch at the Squirrel Cage.  I wanted to do some grocery shopping and I read or heard somewhere that it is better to shop on a full stomach so as not to buy things that aren't needed.  I don't know if that is true or not, but it was excuse enough for me to have a lunch of a cajun chicken sandwich and french fries. And it did keep my buying down somewhat at the grocery store.  I bought some things to throw together a lasagna before the game, or after depending on my motivation.  I am planning  a little trick with this lasagna that I am not sure will work or not.    Usually if I add meat to a lasagna it is almost always ground beef that I fry up ahead of time and then add to the layers as needed.  This time, rather than go that route, I bought the initial ingredients at the grocery store, plus some veggies I want to add (mushrooms, onions, green peppers), instead I stopped off at my local Italian store and picked up some heat and eat meatballs.  They have two sizes, the larger ones for things like spaghetti, and the smaller one for things like wedding soup.  I am going to try replacing the normal ground beef with the smaller meatballs instead.  The price is roughly the same, I get the meatballs for $3.99 a pound, but much less of a hassle from the cooking perspective, instead I just have to add them to however many layers I want ground beef in and assume that the oven will provide the requisite heat for the heat and eat portion of the recipe.  How it will actually turn out is yet to be determined, but I am eager to try my experiment.

I am also watching "Meet the Press" as I type this, adding to my list of multitaskings.  The funny thing is, of all of the things I am doing, I can honestly say that they all have a value of 0 in the grand scheme of actual work.  But today is technically Ronald Reagan's birthday, he would have been 100 had he lived, so of course that was the overwhelming topic of the show.    

Sorry, I took a bit of a break there.  Decided to play a few games off over on Madden on Facebook.  They finally opened Pro League 3 for those of us that have been playing a while now, but in 3 you can only play one game a day.  The bonus is that if you go the entire season undefeated you get a bonus exclusive card.  Exclusive cards are very hard to come by, usually you have to complete an entire team set in order to get one, something that I am not even close to doing, I think the most players I have from any one team would be Cincinnati, where I have 27 of their cards collected so far.  So far I have played 9 games in pro league 3 and am still in the running for a Aaron Rogers Exclusive card since I am 9-0 to this point.  I am also close to picking up a few more achievements, a couple of social achievements for sending and receiving gifts daily, In need one more New York Giants card to get the bonus for owning 25 of them, and my team ranking is 99, so one more point and I get the bonus for a team ranking of 100 or more.  

We are getting closer to the start of the hockey game.  I am not going to glog it, this entry is long enough without going there.  The game between the Penguins and Capitals is the NBC NHL Game of the Week, and I am betting that the NBC execs are a little disappointed with their choice of game right about now.  Usually they tend to air games between teams that have a little more of a national following or some name (as much a name as can be had in hockey) players, so the game of the week teams tend to be rotated amongst the likes of the Penguins, Capitals, Red Wings, Blackhawks, Flyers, Rangers and maybe one or two other teams would get thrown into that mix.  Thing is, a couple of the stars that I am sure NBC was looking forward to having on TV from Pittsburgh will in fact not be playing.  Sidney Crosby has been out the better part of a month now with a concussion, and Friday night Evgeni Malkin tore the MCL and ACL in his knee on a freak collision with Tyler Myers in the Penguins-Sabres game that likely ended Malkin's season.  Should Malkin have surgery he would be out at least 6 months, which would be the remainder of the NHL season (and then some).  There was no intent to injure on the play, it was just one of those things that happen when playing a contact sport.  

Okay before I get distracted by cooking and watching hockey I should probably post this.  T minus 6 hours and change now until the Super Bowl, which means rough T minus 10 hours and change until civil unrest in Pittsburgh should the Steelers win.  I can say that I can wait.

Neverending Thread 2011

I'm back!!!!  Or more to the point, it's back.  Yes it has taken me far to long to start this blog entry.  For those that are new to the page a brief description, the Neverending Thread is my list of books that I read over a calendar year.  Usually I will start with one in the initial entry (this entry right here) then add books to the comments as the year progresses.  For those that are Multiply members it is easy to keep up, a new comment moves the thread to the top of their update feed, for those that aren't I tend to tag the thread so it can be reached from my blog's homepage. 

Disclaimers out of the way, it is a little late in the year to be finishing my first book, but as I said in the past we had that little issue of delivery from Amazon (actually a few issues, one order that didn't arrive and a subsequent order the post office decided to keep for a few days before making available, thankfully I didn't order during Super Bowl week or I might never have gotten it the way everything shuts down here).   But after lots of sputs and starts, and the issue of finding time to read we have our first completed book for 2011, "Idiot America" by Charles P Pierce.  Since I am one to provide links to my reading material, I believe this is called for

I could talk about this book and what I liked or didn't like, but that isn't what I do, I just list the reading material, Amazon and other outlets do a far better job regarding book reviews than I could, so I will not infringe on their territory.  Suffice it to say if you are a conservative, I got better than even money you will hate it and if you are a liberal better than even money that you like it, though I would argue for all of the wrong reasons, many of which are why it is titled "Idiot America" to begin with.

Rather than a book review I will steal a paragraph from the book's afterword, one that kind of stuck with me. The book's afterward deals in part with the Glenn Beck phenomenon, because Beck's show wasn't nearly as popular when the book was first written, and how the mainstream media has treated his show.  From the book....

     :"Journalism almost fails here.  The people  - and the person leading them - are utterly out of their minds.   I do not need to find three sources for this.  I do not need to find someone to say, well, some of them are only sort of out of their minds.  If I see a guy walking down the street with a duck on his head, I can write that I saw a guy walking down the street with a duck on his head.  I don't have to find someone to say they saw a guy walking down the street with a duck on his head, and I particularly don't need to find someone on the other side who will say, no, what you saw was a duck walking down the street with a guy on his ass.  I am not obligated to treat transparent lunacy as though it were worthy of respect simply because it happens to be popular.  I am not obligated to be that nice a person.  And neither are you."

     That is as close to a review as you will get from me on this page so enjoy.  As for me, time to crack open another book.

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